Phew, it’s been awhile since we’ve had an actual developer update! Last time we checked in was back in January (!). We were planning on creating all new backgrounds for each level, but after much consideration we decided to stick with our old backgrounds with a few tweaks. We are, however, updating our tiles as we’ve ended up with a much better level creation system that is much more flexible than our previous solution. Aside from this, we’re updating some animations and even planning on adding some perks to add a new layer to the gameplay.
As you would expect, we’re plugging away on the levels so we’ll hopefully have the levels done soon-ish. With that said, we plan on having some closed beta testing starting in August, so if you’re interested, be sure to sign up for our newsletter where we’ll make the announcement.
What Else Are We Up to?
Besides The Painter’s Apprentice, we’ve also been working on two other games. The first is an educational game for a competition. It’s a turtle racing game where you must answer questions correctly in order to increase the speed of your racer. As you progress through each level, the questions get harder and will go from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division.
And, of course, we’ve been working on Fairy Trails. There’s new direction for the characters so we’ll be updating the enemies and heroes to a more consistent style. What else? Well, we’re hoping we can release some small games while working on the longer games (like Fairy Trails) so we can have a larger portfolio. This means we’ll need some more artists, so if you’re interested in joining the team or know someone who is, please feel free to reach out firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the things I love about showing my game off to a crowd is that it acts as an amazing, live QA session. We’ve been able to fix a lot of different bugs thanks to events like Playcrafting. Just recently we went to MAGFest to show off The Painter’s Apprentice and we found even more items that need some fine tuning. Some we were already aware of. Others, were a bit of a surprise. We’ve made notes on all of the comments and while we can’t implement all of the cool ideas in this game, we may consider it for a sequel or prequel (yes we’re already looking at a franchise of sorts).
We’re thankful for everyone who has taken the time to play the game and provide us with feedback. I also know we’re doing something right when multiple people spend the time to play the entire demo all the way through. It’s exciting and always great to see. It means we’re doing something right.
We can’t really show too much of what we’ve been up to because it’s mainly just been small tweaks to the code here and there to make it run smoother. But believe me, even from last year to now, there’s a huge difference in the way the game looks and feels. For starters, we’ve switched gears to focus on PC first so you can play with a controller versus touch screen. While our mobile version works well, there’s just something about playing the game with a gamepad in hand. And of course, there’s the coloring effect. It definitely adds a whole new element to the game. People loved it and it was a joy watching gamers jump around and color everything in.
Here’s what our MAGFest 2016 trailer submission looked like:
Here’s what our latest trailer looks like:
Pretty huge difference right?
With that said, there will be some huge changes in the future. We’re updating the art to fit both the art movement AND the character a bit better. We want people to be able to look at the backgrounds and immediately realize they’ve switched to a different art style. So we’ve brought on an art director who has extensive knowledge of the various time periods who’ll help out. We’re hoping to still stay on track with our planned release date…at least that’s what we hope! If you’d like to see some of the changes, then subscribe to our newsletter. We’ll be updating you on all of that and more!
We’re really excited for how everything is shaping up. If you’d like to try out the game, head on over to our downloads section to try it out.
As you may have guessed, we’ve been working super hard on improving The Painter’s Apprentice. We’ve demo-ed at some great places such as GaymerX East and we’re headed for our second year at MAGFest. Even more exciting, we were selected to show off the game at PAX South at the PAX Rising booth! How cool is that?
Since our last development blog, we’ve gone through a lot of changes. We’re releasing first on PC (hurray!) so we’ve been tweaking the controls to fit the keyboard and mouse as well as the controller. You can actually download the demo we show off at these conventions to try it out yourself at home. And if you like it, vote for us on Steam Greenlight.
So what’s changed since the last time? We’ve added an amazing parallax effect that you can see a gif of here:
We also added in some platforms that now don’t just move in a linear line but can go around in a box.
We’ve also updated the animation for the little blob so it stands out more. Here’s what it looks like now:
We’ve also cleaned up a couple items on the backend that makes the game run much smoother. You might not see it, but there’s a whole lot that goes on behind the scenes.
We’ll be updating this blog more often as things heat up. Of course feel free to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter as you’ll be the first to get access to our builds and learn about some cool news.
The past 3 months have flown by and we’ve been busy showing off our game at various places like the Playcrafting Expos and, most recently, MAGfest. We even spoke to some college kids at The Wharton School of Business at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania at a Games Industry Panel. All that to say we’ve been super busy and we’re using these events as excuses as to why we haven’t been updating our developer log.
That doesn’t mean we haven’t been hard at work. We received a lot of valuable feedback not only from the gamers but from the judges at MAGFest as well. While it’s always hard to hear the negatives of a game, it really helps us figure out ways we can improve it. It’s also great for bug testing and we found a few new bugs that we’ve been able to quash.
One of the biggest comments we’ve received from judges is the fact that the game doesn’t fully utilize the mechanic of painting. Right now you just match the color to the paint blob to defeat them. Most people wanted to utilize it more so we’ve come up with a couple more mechanics to introduce some more depth to the colors. For example, we’ll have platforms that move across a track and in order to stay on the right track you must hit a switch with the right color otherwise you fall off. We’ve got some other ideas brewing too, but these might be something we add on for later updates.
The biggest change we’ve made is the move away from a store. Rather than purchase upgrades you now collect paintings to unlock your perks. This means there’s more replay values to levels and lets us go even crazier with our level design. Hidden areas anyone?
So what about those paint tubes you collect then? These will basically tie to your paint meter. The more you collect the higher the meter so you can then pull off paintball attacks and the powerful rainbow attack.
Of course we’ve also gotten rid of some other aspects of the gameplay. There is no longer a dash attack or dive attack. There was just no easy way to bind these to keys and they weren’t really necessary to the gameplay. We’ve also adjusted some of the enemies to ensure players can actually defeat them with the melee attack. The jump sound effect will also change as a lot of people had issues with it. Maybe we’ll stick with a more subtle sound than what we currently have.
Besides that, we’re plugging along. We’ll be looking for some alpha testers probably by the beginning of April. The demo will just be the first two worlds and we’ll want to know your thoughts on the levels, bosses and if you found any bugs. Speaking of bugs, we’ll be writing up an article on proper bug testing procedure soon so stay tuned!
Phew, after several different iterations of our color wheel, we’ve finally come upon one that we think works very well. In making this change, we have also kinda sorta updated a lot of the UI as well. You might have remembered our last version with little buttons. Now instead of buttons there are color regions you can press. This gives you a much larger region to press for more leeway when you’re pressing colors. I know in the last version I would occasionally press just to the right or left of the button and not pull off the color attack. To make the attacks faster, we’ve also attached the attack to the colors instead of having a separate button for it. This makes the combat a lot faster and also makes it easier to run and attack at the same time, which makes the overall gameplay a lot smoother. Besides this we’re also getting ride of the option to double tap to dash as well as the paintball button. Never fear, they’re not going to be gone forever. Instead we’re adding it as a special move set you can pull off via the color wheel. To do this, you’ll simply hold down a color to fire off the paintball and hold and slide to dash. You can pull off these moves so long as you have enough “combos” in the combo meter. If you run out, you won’t be able to perform them. Our mega rainbow attack will also be tied to the color wheel, but instead you will need to slide over all three colors to pull it off while also having a full combo meter. We are also planning to revamp some of the enemy AI to take these special moves into account. Now with certain enemies you’ll need to pull off these moves before you can do any damage to them. We’re pretty excited about these upgrades and we can’t wait to show you how it will work! Of course, the trick now is to figure out how to make it work on a controller for you PC gamers. Oh, did we not mention we’ll have a PC version because we will.
Speaking of which, we’re thinking of potentially putting this on Steam Greenlight in the future. While it will have some similarities to the mobile version, we will probably make it a tad harder and longer as we won’t be limited by space. Heck, there might even be some things to collect to unlock more story! At the moment we’re still debating a price point but suffice to say it won’t break the bank.
We’re getting closer to a really fun user experience, or at least so we hope. If you want to sign up as an alpha/beta tester to give us feedback on the overall gameplay design email us at contact [at] luminositymobile.com.
Check out below for the various incarnations of our color picker method:
One of the biggest challenges of The Painter’s Apprentice has been designing the color wheel in a way that is fun, quick and easy with still an element of challenge. We tried a lot of different layouts from a slide out color picker option to tapping a button to cycle through the color wheel. All of them were a bit too clunky and slowed down the gameplay significantly. Whenever we showcased the game, the color wheel was the biggest complaint among all of the players. Finally, we think we’ve come upon a solution. At least for the most basic aspect of the color picker method. As you can see from the image below we’ve reduced the amount of colors to three and always have them available on the screen for players to tap.
If it seems too simple, we’re just getting started. We’re looking at ways to incorporate color mixing for the other three colors or, perhaps, introduce color inspired special moves. We want to add a bit more depth to the game than simply pick the color of the enemy to attack so we’re coming up with some other ways we can have the color interact with the environment and player abilities. If you have suggestions, let us know!
If you’re not a mobile gamer, never fear! We’ve actually implemented controller support now too, which means we’ll definitely be releasing the game for PC. Maybe Steam Greenlight is in our future? If not we don’t get Greenlit we’ll still have a PC version available so stay on the lookout for that announcement. And if you’re looking to beta test it, let us know by emailing contact [at] luminositymobile [dot] com.
Meet Luminosity Mobile
We attend a lot of events so there are plenty of opportunities to meet the people behind the company! If you’re in the DC area, check us out October 3-4 at VGU-Con. Future events will likely include:
Pax South in San Antonio in January
MAGfest in Baltimore in February
Pax East in Boston in March
We also attend a lot of the Playcrafting events in New York City so if check out their page for their event schedule. If you can’t attend any of these events you can always catch us on Twitch at 7pm ET every Saturdays.
We mentioned it in our previous post when we talked about the Summer Expo, but we’ve finally implemented loading screens! Previously we had no loading screens so when people pressed start on the level select menu it seemed like the game froze. Players would then frantically press the play button in the hopes of getting the level to load. All to no avail. The thing is, it takes the unity engine some time to load the levels because of all the assest like the tiles and enemies. Rather than have people tap the play button futilely, we’ve incorporated a dynamic loading screen. We’ll offer some tips on some of the game mechanics and enemies and the Apprentice performing different animations. It won’t be super complicated since we wanted players to know they were on a loading screen. Even still we want to make sure all of the scenes we have add some kind of value to the players, thus the tips. We’re excited to show it off. You can see an image below.
Luminaut Dev Log
Besides the loading screens, we’ve been tweaking the menu system some more and working out the color picker method and button layout so the user experience is as intuitive and flawless as possible. This might mean we need to make some changes to the gameplay if it doesn’t pan out, but we’re still testing a couple things out before we go down that route. We’ve also found out that the Smithsonian Art Museum is hosting an Indie Arcarde in 2016. This will be the third year they highlight indie game developers. Submission is due September 1st so we’ll be working extra hard this month to make sure the build we submit is polished.
Which leads me to my next point: websites for our games. We currently only have a simple page dedicated to our games, but in order to attract more people we decided to create a completely separate landing page for both Once Upon a Runner and The Painter’s Apprentice. The layout and design of the site will fit the theme of the games themselves and they’ll be fairly self-contained. We’re looking forward to unveiling this project so keep an eye out in the near future for any news and updates.
Also, if you’re interested in being a beta tester, subscribe to our newsletter! We’ll be sending out a request for testers in the next couple months to people in our mailing list first. This is your opportunity to really affect the outcome of The Painter’s Apprentice. All you need to do is enter in your information in the subscribe box in the sidebar and that’s it! If you’d like to keep up with us on other channels you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Twitch.
The last time we showed off The Painter’s Apprentice at a Playcrafting event, we didn’t have it on mobile devices and there were a lot of problems with the responsiveness of our jumps and UI. After showing it off at the summer expo, we’re a lot more confident in the direction of our game thanks to the positive reception and constructive feedback we received. Many of the problems that stood out to players we haven’t even noticed, especially since we have been playing the game for so long. Some of the issues people noticed are:
Jump button registering upon release of jump button not on tap – leads to feeling of lag and unresponsiveness
Dash button shouldn’t be attached to directional arrows as people often dash to their death when edging to the corner of a cliff.
Loading screens need to be implemented (we’re already working on this one)
Updating color picker method (we’re already working on this one too!)
Overall, most people really enjoyed the overall concept, artwork and general gameplay. We’re getting much closer to perfecting our user experience. Once we implement and test out some new UI, we’ll be ready to start a closed beta testing. Speaking of which, we’ll likely be ready in a few months so if you’re interested in being a beta tester and shaping our games and level design email contact [at] luminositymobile [dot] com.
We also found some other really cool games at the Playcrafting Summer Expo that you should keep an eye on including:
Heart Catcher – by Emma Larkins. A two player card game based on bluffing. Release date Q1 2016.
Cultus – by CRAM Games. A card building game where you built up your cult to gain credibility. The person to get to 12 credibility wins.
Playcrafting has been one of the major indie game supporters in the past few years, so we were super excited to hear other groups are picking up the mantle to support indie devs. One group we found was Kill Screen. They do events every couple months at the Ace Hotel in New York. Hopefully we can show off The Painter’s Apprentice there as well to increase our reach.
This past week we’ve been experimenting with the UI and cleaning up a couple issues. Our biggest hurdle is still finding the perfect color picker method that is both intuitive and fast. I We’ve finally come up with an option that I think will definitely make the gameplay much smoother. We’ll be posting screenshots of these in the near future on our social media sites, so be sure to check us out on Twitter and Facebook!
These past couple weeks have been full of updates and changes and we’re pretty excited about them. We’ve made a lot of small changes to the UI, which will hopefully make the overall gameplay experience that much better. Most of these changes were to add some subtle animations to the menu so they “fade in” instead of simply appearing on the screen. It makes the menu system much more dynamic and fluid. As well we’ve darkened the icons for the menu and level select so you know when you have clicked a button. These small changes really have a huge overall impact on the look and feel of the game. We’re still working out a couple other things but you can check out the new system in the gif below:
We mentioned in a previous post that we have gotten a new tile artist and we’ve switched over a lot of our old worlds to the new tiles. It’s made a huge difference in the way the game looks and for the better. On the design side, we have a lot more flexibility with our level design and can pretty much create almost every design we dream up (with a couple caveats of course). And since we have multiple tiles on a sheet, our game size should be much smaller than our previous method. Aesthetically, the levels are much more visually pleasing. There’s just the right amount of contrast to the background to really make foreground pop. You can check it out below.
If you’re in the NYC area, you can play our new and improved game on 7/29 at the Summer Expo. We’re still cleaning up a couple UI things but we’ve made a ton of improvements too so we’re super excited to show it off. As well if you’re in the DC/Baltimore area we’ll be at VGU convention August 1-2.
Luminaut Dev Log
Besides these UI changes, we’ve also completed some loading screens for the levels and we’ve updated some icons to keep with the painter theme more. We’ve finally fixed our double jump issue and now we’ve also added in the ability to jump once after you fall off a ledge so you can still save yourself. This makes the overall jumps feel much more responsive as previously if you tried to jump while falling off a ledge nothing would register. Plus, we’ve finally gotten the paint brush tip in-game to match the color you’ve chosen. It’s pretty great and serves as a great reminder of what you have “equipped.”
We’ve got a lot more updates coming your way. If you’re interested in testing out the build, subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll contact you first for closed beta testing.
After working furiously on our demo for the Very Big Indie Pitch this past week and watching others play the game, we realized there was a significant lack of enemy types in The Painter’s Apprentice. After one of the programmers also pointed it out, I took a look and realized we needed to make some additions before moving forward. Right, now most of our enemies either patrol back and forth or will follow and attack. They all are also ground enemies. We’ve made some changes to one of our planned enemies to simply act as a kind of “turret” enemy that stands in place and shoots boomerang paintballs once players are in its line of sight, but it won’t follow. As well, we’re adding in a few flying enemies to mix up the gameplay a bit. Some have horizontal attacks, others will have vertical and still others will drop other enemies. There might be other enemies we add along the way, but for now this should hopefully add a good amount of variety. Do you have any ideas on obstacles or enemies you liked in other games? Let us know in the comments!
PG Connects and Very Big Indie Pitch
As you know, we attended the Very Big Indie Pitch at PG Connects over in San Francisco on 7/7. It was pretty hectic and a bit nerve-wracking (holy crap I had to speak with people from Samsung, Amazon and 148apps) but ultimately it was a very rewarding experience. While we came in still with many issues that had plagued our previous builds, we received some valuable feedback on how to improve the game for the future. Our main issue was with the UI. We have tried to come up with more fluid controls and, after speaking with several top-ranks mobile journalists, have decided on two methods:
Have a slide out menu from the attack button and have the colors come out in an arc formation leaning to the right.
Slide out menu but players press and hold the button to select the color.
We’re going to try out both options to see which one feels the smoothest and hopefully we’ll have that updated in the near future! Besides game journalists we also met with some great ad networks like appsholic and seed and also met with some China localization experts. We’re definitely picking up some steam and can’t wait to meet others at our next conference in DC.
Sadly, we didn’t win the pitching contest, that honor goes to the fine gentleman of Shovelware who created a zombie, match three, tower defense hybrid game. I was able to play some at the event and it was a lot of fun. I would describe it as a match three Plants vs. Zombies type game. It’s currently in beta testing so if you’re interested, sign up!
Luminaut Dev Log
While we’ve gone a bit slower in recent months, we’re starting to pick up the pace now that we’ve brought on another programmer. A lot of our fixes are mainly aesthetic and we’re moving along at a comfortable pace. If all goes well, we should have a very polished demo in another month.
After showing off the game at PG Connects I noticed load times were quite long when going between levels. At the same time one of the programmers noticed the same thing and we are now working on loading screens so players don’t think the game crashed. We’re editing some artwork we used for our postcards for our splash screen as well.
As well, we’ve implemented a new enemies: the the bludgeon blob. He’s our next attacking enemy and while he might be slow, he definitely packs a wallop. We used Clayface from Batman as a reference point for the character design.
Besides this, we’ll be streaming on Saturday at 7pm ET another level that we’ll be creating, this time for the Surrealism world. As we want to incorporate the overall themes of the art style in our game design, the surreal level will be very meandering with numerous dead ends. Don’t worry, we’ll have checkpoints.